With wind gusts reaching as high as 115 mph, Hurricane Sandy is expected to hit the New Jersey coast between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. tonight. The eye of the storm will likely pass over Atlantic City around 8:30 p.m. and then Philadelphia in the early hours of Tuesday morning. While our nation’s first capital, is often overshadowed by neighboring Washington, D.C., and America’s financial capital (New York City), the Philadelphia metropolitan area is home to over 6 million people.
Some preliminary estimates of up to $45 billion in property damage mask the real human impact of the storm. The last time hurricane strength winds hit Philadelphia was in 1954, when Hurricane Hazel destroyed over 15,000 homes in North Carolina before buffeting most of the Northeast with one of the most destructive storms to ever hit the United States. One wind gust at Philadelphia International Airport reached 94 mph. Prior to that, the only real hurricane strength storm to ever hit Philadelphia was in 1878, when the Great October Gale wiped out over 700 buildings in Philadelphia with winds reaching 100 mph.
As the wind whistles eerily outside my turn-of-the century South Philadelphia row home, I can’t help but be thankful for the solid masonry construction of these old inner-city working-class houses. However, I also know that much of the housing constructed in the last 50 years in the outer-ring suburbs of Philadelphia are wood frame structures that are not designed to handle hurricanes. Many people may lose their homes, and heaven-forbid, loved ones.
For once, I have to agree with Mitt Romney, that it’s long past time for our country to do some serious non-partisan cost-benefit studies of the consequences of climate change. For those who are behind in their understanding of the science, there is a clear link between increasing ocean temperatures and more ferocious and frequent storms.
Unfortunately for Romney’s only steadfast position (I want to be president), the Romney/Ryan ticket represents a Republican Party that has moved to the far-right denying tenets of basic science. While Romney might have good intentions, he has repeatedly stated that global warming is a “global issue” and that he does not want to be a leader in working to reduce the increasing threats of extreme weather, from our changing climate.
As Hurricane Sandy brings record storm surges to the Eastern United States, we can feel confident that we still have a president who believes that we are all in this together. Unlike Romney who thinks we should disband the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and let the states fend for themselves, President Obama wants to make sure that all of the United States progresses. The U.S. government has the power to print money to pay for hurricane relief; many state governments are nearly broke. This election, vote for Obama, if you don’t want to leave one region or state in financial destitution when an unprecedented hurricane strikes.